China-Brazil relations: reflections on a centenary – 30/06/2021 – Latin America21

On July 1, the Chinese Communist Party celebrates its 100th anniversary.

China is Brazil’s largest trading partner, the destination for more than a third of national exports, but there is little debate in the country about the impacts of the Asian nation’s political system on Sino-Brazilian relations. The centenary of the festival is an important occasion for reflection on the subject.

The Communist Party is the product of many currents of political thought: Marxism and the Russian Revolution of 1917, but also the effervescence of the May 4, 1919 Movement, one of the main sources of Chinese cultural renewal in the twentieth century.

He is the heir to several intellectuals and groups who have sought to strengthen China throughout the “century of humiliation” of foreign interventions and occupations ranging from the Opium War (1839) to the Revolution of 1949.

This origin – more plural than is usually assumed – allows us to understand the role that the party has played in the engine of Chinese development since the beginning of Deng Xiaoping’s process of opening up and reform in 1978.

When Jiang Zemin was general secretary (1989-2002), the party adopted the doctrine of “three representations”, according to which it represents the interests of the majority of the Chinese population, the development of the advanced productive forces and the guidance of the superiors. . culture.

Concretely, it is a more inclusive formulation than the Marxist orthodoxy, allowing the incorporation of entrepreneurs and a vision more focused on national strengthening than on incitement to class struggle.

Since the start of Xi Jinping’s administration (2012), there has been a greater emphasis on the role of the party in overseeing the work of the private sector, with greater control over companies and greater attention to issues. social issues such as inequalities, poverty and environmental preservation.

There remains, however, the long-term vision that the mission of the Communist Party is to promote the development of China and make the country again a great power, respected internationally.

Party leaders speak of being a “moderately prosperous society”, that is, a country that has escaped the middle income trap and achieved a good quality of life, although not on the same scale as a rich nation.

The milestones of this process are precisely two centenaries: 2021 and 2049. The 100th anniversary of the founding of the party and of the communist revolution.

Implications for Brazil

Brazil still faces the challenge of training a generation of specialists in China, fluent in the language, understanding the culture and experience of the country.

This is a long-term project, which has been hampered by the scarcity of resources for scientific research.

To a large extent, the knowledge on Chinese issues consumed in the country comes from sources in the United States and Europe and has often brought the negative marks of the Sino-Western conflicts of recent years, disputes over trade, rights. human and military matters.

It is difficult for Brazilians to identify what their own national interests are in their dialogue with the Chinese Communist Party and which is only a reflection of the concerns in vogue in Washington, Berlin, Paris or Beijing.

However, this reflection is increasingly necessary. Chinese party diplomacy has gained in importance and is no longer limited to Marxist or leftist groups. It also encompasses the Conservatives, the Liberals, the whole ideological spectrum.

The Chinese Communist Party no longer seeks to export its ideological model, as it did in the Maoist era, but seeks to assert the legitimacy of its national trajectory, to speak its version of the facts and to defend itself against criticism.

This agenda has many points of convergence with its Brazilian counterparts, such as the identification of trade and investment opportunities, environmental initiatives such as the fight against climate change, educational and scientific cooperation and development visions.

Other points deserve caution, especially when they concern conflicts with other important partners of Brazil, such as the United States and the European Union.

Such conversations are also good opportunities for Brazilian social actors to reaffirm Brazil’s commitment to peaceful conflict resolution, respect for international law and the rules of multilateral organizations, in issues as diverse as trade disputes. , border disputes or conflicts surrounding human rights.

The pandemic has demonstrated the fundamental importance of China to Brazil, from foreign trade to obtaining medical supplies against the coronavirus.

He also showed that Sino-Brazilian relations have become the subject of controversy between political parties, straining the understandings between the two governments.

In this context, more in-depth research and reflection on the role of the Communist Party in the Chinese state is particularly important for Brazilians – in public administration, businesses, universities -.

It is only with knowledge and information that it will be possible to face these crises.

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